This week's episode is extra long, and extra juicy. Grab a warm cup of tea, a cozy blanket, and listen in to our very first interview on the pod!
Join herbalist and nutritionist Kelsey Conger on PLANET SPOONIE, the podcast for lymies and spoonies healing themselves and the world.
Are you plant curious? Perhaps you're interested in starting a garden or learning to forage, or maybe just looking for a way to reconnect to your roots and the lands around you? Do you ever feel overwhelmed dealing with everyday life as a spoonie, managing medical appointments, and new sensitivities, and a culture that's less-than-accessible? Are you wondering how rekindling your relationship with the more-than-human world could actually help you feel more empowered to tackle these everyday issues?
Today I had the incredible opportunity to sit down and chat with herbalist, aromatherapist, and permaculture designer Denise Cusack of Wholly Rooted. She shares so much wisdom and knowledge about land tending as a source of beauty, resilience, abundance, and healing as someone living with chronic illness.
Discover how Denise's experiences in the garden have shaped her perspective, her family, and her own journey with chronic conditions, calling her to embrace the natural ebbs and flows as a guide for both rest + radical healing. We'll get nerdy and talk about some of our most beloved plant allies, the stories and cultural significance lands hold, and the importance of self-advocacy as a spoonie.
To sign up for her upcoming masterclass on Regenerative Herbalism, click this link for an *exclusive* launch party invite!
Remember, our bodies are a direct reflection of the ecosystems we inhabit, and just like this earth, our bodies know how to heal.
Denise Cusack is a clinical regenerative herbalist, certified aromatherapist, and certified permaculture designer, with over 20 years of experience in the natural health and wellness community. She is a hands-on and passionate educator and mentor, living with her family at Wholly Rooted Regenerative Education and Permaculture Farm in South Central Wisconsin.
Find Denise on:
Thanks for tuning into the PLANET SPOONIE podcast 🌎
If you’re living with Lyme or chronic illness AND you feel ready to take your power back, begin healing, reconnect to yourself + nature, and find your *shine* again…
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Stay in touch with me on social @kelseytheherbalist 🌼
Acknowledging that this podcast was recorded on the unceded land of the Kumeyaay (Iipai-Tipai-Diegueño) people, who have called this land home for 600 generations. This is now commonly called San Diego County in Southern California. Learn more about the Kumeyaay nation here.
[00:00:00] Kelsey: Welcome to Planet Spoonie, the podcast for linies and spoonies healing themselves in the world. In this collective and inclusive space, you will learn all about the foundations of truly holistic living, including traditional nutrition, herbal medicine, nature connection, and everything in between. These are the same foundations that have helped me rediscover a sense of magic, belonging, and my own healing capacity, even while living with chronic illness.
Let's dig in. So a little bit of housekeeping before we get into the episode. First off, thank you all so much for tuning in so far. I have been blown away by the amount of downloads and listeners and all the different states and even different countries and even on a few different continents. That just gets me so excited.
My plan from the get go with this podcast was to do bi weekly episodes twice a month, but honestly, I am having so much fun. And loving the ideas and feedback I'm getting from all of you, especially on social media. So if you don't follow me yet, follow me there so you can reach out to me and connect with me with any ideas or questions you might have.
I love doing Q& A's on there. But like I said, I'm having so much fun. So we'll see what happens and how long I can stay with this bi weekly podcast. Kind of structure. I definitely did not plan to launch this episode today, but honestly, it was so juicy and good, and I enjoyed talking to Denise so much.
She is so inspiring, so I decided to just go ahead and drop it today and shelf some of the other solo content for the next episode launch. I'm having a lot of fun playing with this, and I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
So welcome to the show, everyone. Welcome, Denise. I'm so excited to have you here. Denise is an incredible herbalist and permaculture designer, herb grower, aromatherapist, and artist, and I'm so happy to have you here. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and your story? Sure, I'm
[00:02:17] Denise: really glad to be here.
It's nice to chat and, I love sharing everything that we're doing with people as well. And you said everything pretty much, I'm an herbalist. I've been a practicing herbalist for many years in the past, but we're pivoting a little to more education. But we also live here at Holy Rooted Farm, which is our family.
Land and mini homestead, and we grow medicinal plants both as United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary, where we grow at risk and endangered medicinal plants, and we also grow hundreds of other different species of medicinal plants that we also donate to the Herbalists Without Borders donation network and we save for seeds and grow a lot of our own food.
So we do a little bit of everything here, which I think is Kind of reflective of all of us in our this house also, and that we all enjoy a lot of different things and we're all really active and creative and busy, but we also really love having this home base that we work from. Yeah, that's
[00:03:16] Kelsey: so beautiful and I know we were just chatting about this but what are some of and of course going into winter.
What are some of the herbs that you're really excited about that are growing in your garden or on the farm right now? Yeah,
[00:03:30] Denise: like you were saying, it's, fall's coming, so we have a lot of things actually ending for the year, but one of my favorite things about this time of year is that the sweetgrass.
That's literally wild, native, it smells so amazing. And I was just standing out watering. We have raised beds in one area. We do a lot of permaculture design where things are integrated and layered like forest gardening. But I also have raised beds to deter deer from eating. The food plants, but I also use that area as like a baby nursery for some of the plants that take, a lot of medicinals take years to fully develop, especially some of those perennial plants.
So that's an area where I can plant things and I won't accidentally dig them up if a marker gets moved by a wild animal or something like that. So it's like a nursery slash that. So we also have some like younger sweetgrass because I grow it until it gets. little more established and then keep planting it out.
And we have it wild here as well. But just standing about 10 minutes ago, watering those raised beds because I just planted out a bunch of blackberry lily babies and red sage and oh gosh. And a few blue flag iris, those things are like those little tiny, bugles that are gonna be growing.
Next year, really, but I just want them to not die or be dug up by squirrels right now, but I could smell the sweet grass just like wafting everywhere, which is just amazing. And we grow a lot of endangered and at risk plants, which I love. It's just that we don't harvest them generally, I try not to and try to find other more suitable plants so that we can establish stands and it can take years or decades, even to establish really large stands of those.
I was looking because we're having someone come, filming here and so I was checking on like the golden seal and the ginseng and all of those things that you can see and wild ginger, blue cohosh, black cohosh and all like true unicorn and all of those things that are it takes a long time to get established and you know it's some of those plants where I've planted New bare root and seeds every single year for five years and you're just starting to see Those kind of you know expand and get bigger in that space but I you know, I love Everything about fall, I live where we have seasons and I love fall.
And so to me, even like the golden rod as it's decaying, it's not as gold right now, but it's still like one of those few things that's blooming and it's waving in the breeze and it's covered with the pollinators because so many other plants aren't there. And like all the asters right now, the new England aster is really beautiful this time of year and it's covered in the pollinators.
So I just love walking around and. Observing with them and basking. Yeah, basking. Exactly. Oh, that
[00:06:16] Kelsey: sounds so beautiful. I've never had the privilege of meeting sweetgrass in person, but that I cannot wait for the day to smell that aroma, especially after reading braiding sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kemmerer.
It's just such a beautiful native here in the States that I'm really looking forward to meeting it
[00:06:35] Denise: one day. I love it. I think it's the best aroma on the planet. And it's one of those plants that I know is native here and I've only found it a few times and I actually had planted it here when we first moved here and then the very next summer, the very next summer though, my neighbor was mowing like along the road and I was like, that's sweet grass.
It's, and now every time, like even, we, if we mow, we have certain areas we mow like paths where we are doing restored prairie. Also to have like drift lines, because we live in a very farmer kind of area. So we have, different grasses growing and natives and all of that.
But every time he mows our paths, that's all you smell. So I was just like, it's everywhere, I desperately wanted it. I was going to grow it and it's just here. And so I love it. Oh, I
[00:07:28] Kelsey: would, did you ever ask, can you get any of the clippings out of the mower bag? If only they were,
[00:07:34] Denise: Oh I go, I like hunt them down through, it was just funny because we have large areas of restored prairie where we're trying to get all of these native plants to grow.
And it is all of the grasses, the prairie is primarily grass, for a lot of that, we've been reintroducing and expanding, trying to encourage things like more of the Minarda and, all the Aspers and the Goldenrod. We have so much Goldenrod here. But the Sweetgrass, I literally am out there, like finding, and picking them and smelling so that I can get to know where all of the actual, like more concentrated.
Sweet grass is because it's, part of the thing is you can see that pinky purple base of that, but there are a few other grasses that also have that. So it is literally, it's like you're in a sea of a million like grass blades trying to, see which one is the sweet grass, but it's.
Oh, I love it. It's so amazing. And I grow, I could just cut it all summer long and dry it so that I have it. And I love a lot of the other, like the white sage and the prairie sage, which are both species that are native here as well that we grow. Oh, wow. I
[00:08:39] Kelsey: didn't realize white sage grew that far north, even on the East
[00:08:43] Denise: Coast.
Yeah, it's, it's all through. I think it's more prevalent as you get more into the big Dakotas, and, all of that, and heading westward, but it does grow, and also the Prairie Sage, which has a very similar, they're both the Artemisia, Chalky kind of look, they're both that both of them are that very chalky white gray and they both have very similar leaf development except that the Prairie sage has more of a flowering head like it almost looks more like a true sage in a way for that, they have that very similar Aromatic profile.
So I like using the prairie sage for a lot of things because white sage is such a sacred plant for so many peoples that I'm not a part of. So I grow it and we share it only to if I share it, it's to Indigenous groups because, that's something that's important to them. But otherwise, it's just for us to grow it, to experience the plant and get to know it.
And I love both of those. I
[00:09:47] Kelsey: love that so much. And I resonate so much with what you're talking about and just sometimes growing things for the joy of growing them and seeing different pollinators show up and just seeing how it interacts on the landscape and truly just witnessing that and being a part of that almost, there's so much healing that can happen there before even making any medicine
[00:10:09] Denise: with it.
Exactly. And I do that a lot, actually, I grow probably 250 types of medicinal plants, and I'm not growing, I don't, there's nothing wrong with monocropping for organic plants, big fields of echinacea for a large business who's growing it specifically for something, I understand that, and they can use organic principles, and, but for me, I like building things that represent and replicate a more wild environment, because I think the plants Are experiencing like their native habitat, they're developing those chemical components and medicinal profiles that we would look for in wild cultivate, wild crafted versus cultivated.
So if I'm wild cultivating in a way trying to represent and recreate how it would grow wild, I don't find 800 Solomon's seal in a perfect row, in the wild. I find them, here and there, and that's how I plant everything here. It can mean that I spend a lot more time harvesting than someone who just needs to go down a row, but it also means that I grow so many things where I only grow a handful of them, just to see how does it work.
Is it happy in this place? Does it work next to these other plants? And some of that is intuitive. Some of that's just based on the space. Some of that is looking at. Like our own land, where is it really more sandy soil? Where is it more wet? Where is it shady for part of the day? And creating, it's you feel like you're, trying to help plants recreate their own natural ecosystems so that they can prosper and be abundant in that.
And so I feel like you were saying, it's like growing it just to experience it, because sometimes I don't have hundreds of them. Like I'm growing huacate, which is like in the marigold family, but it's from Central America. And it's this giant, I only have, four of them. I grew last year and this year, although I collected so many seeds, but it's just to see how does, I planted it somewhere different last year.
It was almost seven and a half, eight feet tall this year. It's four feet. And we've had a drought. And that's another thing. I don't usually, I don't baby or coddle the medicinal plants, except when we're planting them out, because they need water and care until they establish themselves. But if a plant is a native plant to my, region, or if it has, similar conditions, where it would be able to grow, thrive in my, I don't want to irrigate it and have it become weaker.
I think that. They get really hardy and strong and all of that. So those it was interesting to see and I do that a lot like I'll plant a few things, a few things there a few things here and try them out. I have one black corn hound that I've been trying to grow for a few years.
A colleague of mine in Ohio, she also is trying to grow them, and we keep sharing seeds, and we're having really low germination rates, and then, and I'm like, I've got one! Year two! And also, that's what they say, it's like, it likes to just die, but it should come back, it's a perennial, but it has to be in the right place so I implanted it somewhere else, but that's why I have that little nursery. I dig things up and move them and, this year I did some things where that were first year because we've had a significant, like a severe drought. So they do that, but then I just like hanging out and seeing Who grows where and who's really great and yeah,
[00:13:31] Kelsey: and I feel I'm sure you see this too, where oftentimes when you can have that flexibility, which probably, comes so much from the permaculture background of letting a plant put itself where it wants to go, like I, in my garden, planted a patch of Yerba Mansa, but I really, it was my first time growing it.
I didn't realize that this belongs in riparian habitats under cottonwoods along creeks, and so I planted it in this big sunny spot where it's just the complete opposite of what it wants and just watched it slowly move itself over underneath some avocado trees because it's funny how the plants will move themselves where they want to go if you let them have that kind of freedom.
[00:14:15] Denise: I do that. I start out with things being in a place like, and then I end up with having all the plants everywhere. I have agrimony everywhere. Yeah, it does. I have agrimony everywhere. Those birds, they stick. I think it's like the deer and the chipmunks and things like, oh, there you are. Oh, there you are.
But it's, I like that. And we have yarrow that is our lawn. Instead of grass, it's just everywhere and violets everywhere. Veronica is the lawn ground ivy self heal. It's so funny because when we moved here, It's so beautiful. We'd gone from more of a suburban location to having this, and I'd grown in larger scale as an experiment on a friend's goat farm for a while to see can I do this by myself?
Or a couple people, can we do this and do we enjoy it? And growing bigger than a backyard. And so then when we moved here, there were all these things I was going to plant. And I think 75 percent of them, I was like, Oh, you're already here, which is why it was great. I went ahead and planted so much, but it's also funny because, the first thing about permaculture really is observation.
And a lot of times we get so excited. We want to jump in. That was me. I was like, I'm going to plan everything. I'm so excited. And then I'm like, Oh. The blue vervain that didn't work in the bed where I put it, my perfect little, when I first made the first garden bed, it didn't, but there it is wild all over the place, 50 yards down the area but it's so happy there, and we've done that with so much, like the golden rods and the and the arrow, and we have things in the woods, like all of the, Sweet Woodruff and Bedstraw and all of those two.
But it's just funny because every single time, oh and Ostrich Burns, every single time I'm like, I'm gonna get this, it's there. So I love that.
[00:16:03] Kelsey: That's so beautiful and it really, I feel I think it's easy to underestimate for folks who don't know how ecologically rich and diverse prairie lands are.
But it sounds like you're really living on, an edge in permaculture where you have multiple biospheres merging in this one space.
[00:16:25] Denise: Yes, where we are in Wisconsin, it used to be, we had, we were glaciated. And there's right in the area where I'm living in South Central Wisconsin, there's an area called, the Driftless Zone because it was unglaciated, which is where we moved from.
We only moved. 25 miles, and we went from un glaciated to glaciated. And so what happened is we were a part of the Green Bay lobe like 40,000 years ago, and as the glacier retreated, it dragged all of the rock and rubble and sand and dirt. And so what it created is these things called drums. And of course they're also kettles.
Kettles are the dips and the drum ones are the bumps. And so the drum ones in my area. If you look at an aerial topography, it looks like teardrops all facing the exact same direction for like hundreds of miles. And so we live on a little teardrop, at the edge. My neighbors live on the drumlin, and we're literally at the edge of the drumlin, so the soil changes.
And it's, this all used to be Marsh land as well. And back, 150 years ago when people started trying to build a road from Milwaukee to Madison, they literally had to do it in the winter when it was frozen solid as a rock or create floating barges of giant tree trunks to attempt because it was marshland.
And this is, I guess it's probably not interesting to anyone but me, but I love, I think it's so important to find out where. our land came from, and what was here. And one of the things that's really interesting is we live less than a mile from a really like a state trail that goes the glacial drumlin, of course, because it's all drumlins, but it goes through this area and it used to be a railroad and they built it a hundred and something years ago through marshland, but it started sinking.
And because it was sinking, they had to close it, and now it is just a limestone biking, walking, hiking, snowmobiling path that goes like 70 something miles from Milwaukee to Madison. But they had to abandon the railroad because of trying to build it, in a swamp, basically. But we live next to this natural area.
that has all of these really rare and endangered plants that I actually am really excited about, like bog rosemary all the sundews. There's, there are orchids in Wisconsin, and I haven't been able to find seeds and things, but they grow literally a mile from my house in this natural area that, where they're preserved.
So some of that like we want to build a bog garden, where we have like more peaty and we're going to have The blueberries and the cranberries and all of that, maybe bog rosemary, sundew, all of those things that love that to recreate where this came from and also grow plants that are really becoming rare and extinct.
So I, I love all of that. I'm just, I'm a geek, plant geek. I love
[00:19:14] Kelsey: it. I am right there with you. That is so beautiful. Just the way that you're speaking about. the land. It really makes me think of just how storied places can be and how, where and how do we fit within that story of the landscape.
And your knowledge is obviously has such a wide breadth and is so deep into all of these different plants and ecosystems. But I'm curious, For listeners, I don't know, who's listening. I'm sure some folks have years of experience and some are like, what on earth are they talking about?
So I'm curious when you very first got started in all of this and in the growing side of things and really developing this connection with nature. How did you get started here? Like how can a total beginner who knows nothing about, they couldn't even name five plants. How did they get started?
[00:20:11] Denise: Yeah, and that's when I First met my husband, we were in Chicago and lived in an apartment where I would just have pots on, we didn't even have a deck, we just had a back fire escape where the washing machine was that was partially enclosed, I could put pots up there And I had grown a little bit like in pots when I lived in New Mexico for a while.
And then in Florida for a while, Florida was hard because it's all sand. I was like, I can't grow anything here. I know I know a lot of people only grow in pots for that reason. But and I'd spent a few years traveling and I was in California for a little while for school for audio engineering.
But when I came, when we were in Chicago, I was, we came to Wisconsin for mountain biking because that's what you do. And on the weekends, you get out and we would loved the woods and nature and being out. And, we fell in love with Madison, which is just one of those just.
small towns but it's also a big city both at the same time and we literally moved here on impulse so the very first place we had was an apartment with a balcony and I grew pots and after a few years we went and we finally bought our first house but we wanted to be environmentally Conscious and we didn't want to have the big lawn.
And so we bought in one of the, at the time it was called new urbanism where it's built where everything is around like a city, like a center, like a park center, their alleyways instead of driveways, it was garages, everyone had really minimal grass, so that it wouldn't. Because grass requires so much like pesticides and chemicals and maintenance and water.
And so it, our yard was literally 18 feet wide by 15 feet long. And it was between houses. So it was everything. So when my kids were born and it was all grass we got our first CSA because we were like, we have to, have like real food, so our kids know where the food comes from. And then we're like, wow, I bet we could grow some of some things on our own and started growing things like that so that my kids could pick their own, fruits and vegetables and herbs and get to know them.
And I have a child who's not a child anymore, but who had a lot of severe still does have a lot of severe life threatening allergies. And We were also trying to figure out what is it, we found that if we got things that we grew ourselves that it wasn't, we, she wasn't having the same reactions or she wasn't struggling as much with food and it just was like, It's steamrolled.
So I started literally with only this tiny space. By the time we left that house after 11 years we really outgrew the house. It was also small, so that you use, we weren't using as much energy. It was only 1400 square feet, but we lived at home. We were homeschooling. We worked from home. It was just like, wow, this is too much.
But all that was left of the yard was a strip. The width of a mower and everything else was food. And so all the neighborhood kids would come over. One of my favorite things was when one of my neighbors came and knocked at the front door with her daughter to ask me something and I opened the door and she was like, I had the dehydrator running from herbs and she was like, what is that smell?
And her daughter, who spent a lot of time in our yard and helping me was like, Oh, it smells like she's drawing lemon verbena and lemon balm. And her mom's and I was like, she's right. She was like six, and she was like, I love lemon balm because, we put a raised bed out on the front too, and said, take what you need just so that, and all the kids would miss the herbs.
And we started an earth scouts troop. It sounds like this is all like. I know a million and one different things, but all of it accumulated, into this one kind of path of growing our own food, growing our own medicine, getting to know the plants, learning about what was from our area, what's wild, what is rare, what's endangered, and And as my kids got older, like foraging and ethical foraging was a big thing.
If everyone takes one tenth, all it takes is 10 people to have zero. It's and there's so many plants like that. And then also respecting land rights and Indigenous people who are, I'm a landowner and obviously somebody was taken from for us to be able to live here and learning like what plants.
Should we not be messing with, and what plants should we leave and what plants can we take and trying to instill all of that in my own kids who are now adults who can identify basically anything, although I still, every time we go for a walk, all I'm doing is and that is wild grape, and that is sumac, and my, Gavin, this morning I was doing that.
I was like, oh, the wild grapes are turning. Oh, that's, and I know, but, I think what. The point of all of that is, is that we started small. I started with pots on a deck and a few things that we really liked. And as we grew, we added things that we wanted to try or that we really loved so that we are growing things that we would use, which meant we felt like, wow, we, we have reward, we grow something and we have, this food or we have tea or we have, lemon verbena scones, any of these things that we would.
Do and we just kept slowly expanding, which is why then we went and found another house with a bigger yard, and then had a community garden plot because our yard wasn't big enough. And then I bartered for space. I actually traded with someone, and I did design work for her while she let us grow on her land because she had five acres.
So it was like a 50 by 150 foot plot that we grew there. Yeah, it was huge. And so I just bartered. She just let us do that. The next year she didn't have time to garden, so we did more and grew on her part too. And then I would just, so it was like all of this was just slowly growing and building and learning as we went, and understanding more about, one summer we grew flowers too.
And all we did was grow we grew, herbs and vegetables for ourselves as well, but we grew the food pantry one summer. And we called it the Happy Flower Project. And we, it was an experiment in like how many flowers. Can we grow and how many of these are edible and how many of these are, and we would also do things like put like opal basil and Tulsi, the holy basil in the bouquets, which smelled amazing and took herbs and stuff and we'd make bouquets and deliver them to the food pantry for the community day and everybody could take a bouquet.
We'd just make them out, put them in big buckets and people could take them home. But again, it was all just slow steps of growing more and learning and experimenting and trying new things. And then when we came here in 2018, that was my first time where I actually had. acres. It was like, this is huge.
I still feel like that. It's huge. But moving somewhere where, because we've lived in housing developments first, where they raise everything, it's all gone. There's nothing that was there before, and they put all new topsoil, they dig everything away. And where I live in Wisconsin, they aren't taking the forest away.
They're taking cornfields and soy away, but it's still there's nothing left that was there before. And moving here, we're literally, there's trees that have been here. We have 80 something cottonwoods. I keep finding black cherry trees, which I was telling my son, I'm like, how do I, how did I not see this?
That there's another black cherry in front, In choke we have mulberries and rowan and apple trees and you know everything that's just in Norway pine and spruce and fir and juniper and all of these things and it's, I'm like a kid in a candy store.
[00:27:49] Kelsey: It really is what. begins to happen because what, you start out because none of us grow up, most of us anymore do not grow up learning these things in the States.
And I feel like it is such It completely trumps the scarcity mindset that I think so many of us have, especially living with chronic illness, that when you start seeing and just learning plants and seeing the abundance around you, that there is food and fiber and medicine just everywhere, like absolutely everywhere around you.
It is, it's, I feel like I'm, years into it at this point, and it's still so hard to believe just how abundant. Abundant.
[00:28:35] Denise: Everything is. Yeah. Your point also with chronic illness. That's why we started slow and expanded over time to try to figure out that was my thing of can I actually do this by myself, and I have family, I have family members who have chronic health issues.
My, my husband even is allergic to. flies, which, we found that out after we moved here. It's you can't go outside during deer fly season without wearing like full body gear. So okay, so if I can if I can do this myself, with, I have rheumatoid arthritis and lupus and Sjogren's, and herniated discs and joints, because that's what happens over time with these autoimmune diseases that our joints go.
Okay, we're done. Oh, thank you. But if, that's why I really was drawn to permaculture, because if I can recreate perennial like food forest layers, things like that, I don't have to do as much work because I'm not having to crawl around on my hands and knees in like beds. I do have some raised beds, but again, those are easy for me.
We put barriers down and things because if I am going to do something, I'm not going to bend at the waist. I have to kneel and support myself so that I don't. hurt myself or hurt my joints. And so I'll wear knee pads, and I have the back brace on and I have, all of that stuff.
But the thing is by creating these more resilient perennial based kind of plantings and things that we have hundreds of different plants and I can use them and we can eat and we can. Create herbs and, like teas and salve and tinctures and all of these things. Without having to be out in the garden eight hours a day, because I can't, I also have I'm sun sensitive because of lupus.
It's I'm, we're out there at certain times of the day. Versus others were not out during peak heat or peak sun. But it's manageable. I don't feel like yeah, maybe in August. There are a few days where I'm like, wow, Yes. But, it's also I think important. To me that it's okay if I don't harvest everything because you know what else needs all of these things to go to flower is all of the pollinators and all of the insects and the butterflies and the bees and all of those things.
So it's okay. And we need seed, it has to recede itself. It has to go through its natural life cycle. So I feel you get something, but you're also giving something. And I think there has to be that balance. So I know sometimes people are like, Oh, I have, chronic health issues.
And I can it's even if you have a couple pots of the things that you love the most, there are things that aren't that hard. If I had to choose only five things to grow, Tulsi, I'd probably grow five kinds of holy basil, I'd be like, that's it, I would everything else you could just grow wild, go harvest wild along the sides of the, the rural country roads or things like that or a lot of state parks allow people to harvest.
certain types of plants, certain times of year and things like that too. So you could get so much without having to have, working on it and growing things yourself too.
[00:31:42] Kelsey: It's so true. And I feel like I hear you saying it's almost an art form of learning how to work with the body and with nature instead of this top down approach Of trying to do it in some specific box or row or way and learning how to just let it be the way it naturally would be and there's almost so much more ease that kind of comes out of approaching it that way and then giving yourself the support, whatever that looks like needed to actually make that happen.
[00:32:17] Denise: Yeah, I like that, actually. I think that was really an eloquent way of saying that. I know that we all, if we have, chronic health issues, I know that we all give ourselves a hard time and worry about perfection. And I am a type A personality all the way. I, everything has to be perfect.
And trying to cut myself a break, I think is really important. And I think that. Looking at nature and how nature thrives when it is really diverse and it is, it's not a perfectly neat row. In nature, it's not, everything isn't totally curated and cultivated in a perfectly, precise way it is perfect, but it isn't perfect, in the way that we see in those manicured lawns of Elizabethan, in Victorian eras where everything is carved into a rabbit, in your front yard and it's okay.
To be wild. Wild is good. Yes,
[00:33:14] Kelsey: I keep, I have this book on my to read list of Wintering. I don't know if you've read that.
[00:33:20] Denise: Yeah, I actually have it, but I haven't read it yet. Yes, I want to read
[00:33:24] Kelsey: it because I love this concept so much because I am in a suburban area right now and it's... It is so reflective of the way we treat ourselves in the way that we are constantly fertilizing so that things are always blooming, always producing.
, everything's perfectly cut. Like we don't allow the leaves to fall off the trees and just rot into the landscape. And our gardens, things do not look good right now, by any means at all. And it's That's so hard for us to sit with that and even see the beauty in the rot and the decay.
And it's, and in that same way, it's so hard for us to allow ourselves to rest and to allow ourselves to be seen when we're in those spaces of a flare up or things are not good with our health or not very glamorous And it's just amazing how there's this just complete mirroring of the way that we treat ourselves and the way we treat our landscape.
[00:34:22] Denise: And a lot of us, I think that reflection, if perfection is back onto ourselves and also the fear that if we let people know that we have chronic health issues or that we struggle, that a, we're opening ourselves up to judgment or that people think that we're not capable of doing these things that we.
Are doing whether, our work or a profession or hobbies or anything, that we're not maybe not capable. And also, I think it's just like we open ourselves. For criticism, everybody has an opinion and everybody has something that they could tell you what to do, and especially in the natural health and wellness world, I think there's a lot of that if you aren't perfectly healthy, that you obviously aren't a good natural health practitioner, and it's wait, what about genetics, and what about life experiences, and what about age, it's not, there's so many factors that play into Our health and wellness and someone can, same with weight.
I think a lot of that, like whether or not, someone who, works out walks all the time is working on stop happens to be larger than someone who is very. Just sits and doesn't ever do any, movement, you know that one person is supposedly healthier than the other one just based on that.
I think that we, that's all of us like feeding into that. And for me, I think that it's also like that. That book, Wintering, one of the things that I like about that concept, for me, ties back to why we live where we live. I know where you live, you don't really have a winter, and so things go.
And I have lived in California, I lived in New Mexico a few times, Florida, and what I missed the most was fall and winter. And I think that fall and winter is something, especially as a chronic health person, I need. To not work 12 months a year in my garden, and it's okay. I love growing season.
It's amazing. Do I want to do it 12 months? No, I need downtime. I need recovery time. I need quiet and darkness and stillness. And, we need time to just be and to think about things and be inspired and have new ideas and try, and brainstorm trying new things. And that's also how we need to treat ourselves like for our own self care.
I think we need to go. It's okay not to have to go all day, my plants here, we have plants that are native plants. They survive 50 below zero winters here, and they come back stronger the next year. Half of everything, all of our natives like Minarda and the Goldenrods and Blue Vervain and Boneset.
They come back every year, perfectly happy And I think that, that rest is not a negative. I think it's a positive. So even if people live maybe where it's like eternal sunshine and summer weather, building in that downtime, I think is important because that's the way that we can actually care for ourselves better.
I think it's
[00:37:23] Kelsey: so true. And it's, it can be so difficult to permission yourself that rest, especially when there's so much external chatter around. Folks who have chronic illnesses so much unsolicited advice at times what you should be doing that, yeah it's really important to build that in and to to what you were saying before.
Listen, listen to what your body is asking for and give it the support it needs. And it also reminds me of what you were saying about letting plants grow where they want to grow and not coddling them in a way with all of these approaches that you think this is the move, it needs water, it needs this or that, but actually just letting it be where it wants to be.
And it comes out a much more potent medicine when you then go to make something
[00:38:14] Denise: with it. Yeah, I actually, I fertilize using my compost and like nettle tea type of things, but I actually don't use anything as a, like for pests aphids. I have sacrificial plants like chamomile, they love it, but I, I know that I think you and I talked about this before, even when we were just chatting one time about a lot of organic growers, they're allowed to use neem, but it's, even though it's plant based, it's hardcore, that's a heavy duty hitter, and I think that When what we've seen as we study plants and we learn more about them, and even that microbial network and the communication, not hey, they're under the roots chit chatting, how's it going, but it's more of that like electrical, impulses and different like chemical changes that occur that show plants are communicating or changing based on external stimuli, such as if they're being attacked by a certain type of pest, their chemical components change.
If a plant is, if they're aphids, they found that the plant actually adapts in some way to attempt to thwart this attack. So if we get rid of that and they live in this perfect environment, we're not getting that potent medicine, like you said. So I don't even, I'm really, I guess some people would be like, oh my gosh, you could have such bigger plants.
But everything grows. Naturally, as wild as possible and I think companion planting, planting also helps like I said, host sacrificial lambs out there where the aphids are going to attack it anyway, put that next to something that is less appetizing. But I think that is again, all of this is a reflection on us, and our own.
Self care and principles of life as well. I think, it's like, it's, we don't need to always do the hardest hitting things. It's okay to just, I try to approach that with everything. It's okay. You don't have to do everything. But we have so much too. Just from what we can grow here, I donate a lot to Herbalists Without Borders and ship stuff out all the time.
When COVID hit. And everything was locked down. I was like, wow, we could go a whole year and still share out to everybody around the country and not even run out, and some of it, it's not like the hoarding, it's not like everything I need it, but it's, that's why I think also harvesting and moderation helps the plants Rejuvenate themselves and be really strong and healthy and support an ecosystem.
It's okay to not harvest everything as well. And we still have so much abundance for that, I think. Side diatribe, it,
[00:40:54] Kelsey: it is. It's so important because like we were saying before, there's just, I think. From living with chronic illness, we can develop such an intense kind of survivalist mindset of making things very fight or flight or survival based when they maybe aren't really.
And I think growing is such a great example for that. I know I was, I'm not hoarding, but I was hoarding my agastache, my anis hyssop I grew last year, because my gosh, how could you not just love this plant? It smells so good and tastes so good. And I was so worried I was going to run out before I was able to grow more this year.
And it's not, super common in commerce and. I got, to my harvest this year and drying it and realized I had at least a gallon left of a dried herb from last year, but it was such a continued lesson for me of there will always be more. It's okay. You're not going to die because you ran out of anise hyssop.
There will be more again next year. It's just such a good Lesson, I think,
[00:42:00] Denise: And it's interesting with foraging. I so often see people go and find something like a stand of something and they take a 80 grocery bags full of it. They, it's just and then they're like, Oh, we had to do we had to make syrup and we had to make vinegar.
We had to make this dry it. And it's but are you going to use it all? Or could that have been, it just seems like we have that that, like you said the instinct of like scarcity and just. Yeah. And there's so much out there that was also one of those interesting things with a lot of COVID was, a lot of people started talking about being more prepared and I think a lot of people with chronic illness, like for us in our family, there's a lot of significant allergies and sensitivities and sensory things because we have a neurodiverse home as well.
And so a lot of that was us also being prepared in case something is ever out because, if any of you out, who are listening, have a neurodiverse people or neurodiverse yourself too, that it's very hard to change brands, to change formulations, to change anything.
And what we were finding was, wow, all of these. Specific items that we need to survive, we're, there were crazy things that we had to do and how much we had to pay for things. And it was like, there are other areas where we realized we need to also be prepared in that too. And expand our work on expanding how we could produce ourselves.
And so some of that has led us to looking at well, even like grains, can we grow more grains ourselves here, but also then what kind of grains would grow here naturally and what. people historically might have grown here because it's not, easy. I guess some of that, too, with grains, it's hard to thrash and, divide and all of those specialty tools, but it's like there have to be other natural foods and things that we could acclimate ourselves to survive, but it was just an interesting conversation in our household, too, about but yeah, there's we could, grape juice being one thing Oh my gosh, what about the grape juice kind of thing?
And it's there are wild grapes. Literally, we went and picked like gallons of wild grapes. And I think so for me with the allergies and the sensitivities, though, I guess the main point is that by growing our own, we can also develop some of that consistency, and fill in the gaps.
Yeah. We also need in our own family and the idea of preparedness, people think of it as again, that hoarding I'm going to get all of this. Stuff and people look at like that, we have a thousand cans of dinty more beef stew, but can you survive for real forever, like that's not what you're going to eat naturally, but by exploring what like the natural kind of environment and ecosystems of what we have.
I think it also then helps our own health. So it was a long way to get to that. But yeah, like for us, we, we, what we decided was that. A lot of people use herbalism and things like that as a this for that kind of replicating Western medicine, take this herb for that problem. And it's all that, then you're critical.
It's like you take this as for something that's happening right now, rather than using all of these plants as food and as a daily, for daily preventative reasons. And a lot of those things, a lot of the plants I love. actually support our health on a day to day basis. And I think I feel sometimes like it helps me have less flares or helps me deal better when stressors do happen because I'm, incorporating them into my diet and my life every single day.
And so that's that slow and steady to not the, I'm hoarding it all and I'm going to have it all right now, or I'm going to save it all for, that one time that I need it, let's use it every day and let's make it a part of our routine and let's make it a part of our diet so that we are we really, it's like abundance every single day without hoarding, I guess that makes sense.
[00:45:59] Kelsey: no, that makes total sense. And I think it's so it's such an important. Lesson for all of us. And it's so something that I think it comes from this disconnect that we have with nature and with plants. And we don't know what anything around us is until we start getting into it and interested in it.
So when we look around, we do see scarcity because we think that the only place to get food is the grocery store. The only place to get medicine is the pharmacy and those places are valid. important, but they're not the only place to get those things by any means at all. And that makes me curious.
So I know your own experiences with chronic illness and with your family is what drove you into learning about herbal medicine. But can you speak a little bit to that side of your story and how you really got into the world of becoming an
[00:46:53] Denise: herbalist? I first started more in aromatherapy because one of my kids being on the spectrum had a really hard time transitioning, like leaving in the house, putting on the shoes, getting in the car, and it was You know, and we were attachment parents and homeschoolers and all of that, so it was always like, let's sit and let's talk about this, let's try to it wasn't like, you're gonna do this now, and drag them out of the house, so it was like, it was exhausting, and yet at the same time, I was like, I totally get it, because I myself have, I am a sensory person myself, I, I have a difficult time.
I learn in a certain way. And so to have other people in my household, just like me, was not a surprise. But but some of that, it was like, okay, how can we do this? How can we work to get, actually leave the house without having to prepare, for hours in advance? Because it was just, it was really hard.
And, the thing is, it's not fair to the person who's struggling. It felt it's not if you don't want to leave the house, you shouldn't have to leave the house then. That whole thing was always like, gosh, it should be easier on you. It shouldn't be so much stress because all of the stress response responses in our body are not healthy.
We know that all of those stressors are what caused some of these issues with ourselves over time. So aromatherapy at first was one of the first things that I was like, Okay, let's try inhalers. Let's try this. Let's try chest rubs. Let's try, and for bedtime transitioning, trying to get into bed.
And we had co slept for years, which actually worked for us as a family, because then it wasn't so difficult. But over time, again, it was like, we really need some tools. And then with that, it was like, once I got into aromatherapy, and I started learning more about the plant constituents, I was like, huh, I you know, I All of these plants are here, why do I need it in this form, so we started actually trying to grow things ourselves that we could use for like infusing oils for like full on one of the first things I remember I made was like the lavender butters and the lavender bath bombs and things because we do Epsom salt baths with lavender at night just to try to help her like have the body calm down and You transition better for bedtime.
And I was like, wow, this is really amazing. This works really well. So then we let's grow all the lavender, and let's try, the lemon bomb. Actually, that's amazing. Let's grow more. And so it was really based on our own needs. And then it was just like, Once you're in, I think you're stuck.
You're like, this is fascinating. I want to learn about this plant and this plant and all of these things and how they help support so many elements of our health and wellness. And, also they taste really amazing. When I started growing my own herbs, I, there are a lot of really wonderful herbal companies that sell, herbs online, but if you, they have to harvest things, in mass.
If you're harvesting lemon balm and you're doing it all at once, you're gonna wait till all the lemon balm's done so some of it's overdone. You're gonna harvest it, you have to dry it. a lot because you have to conform to certain regulations and you want it to be very dry and then maybe it's a year or two later before you're buying it but when I would dry it myself in my dehydrator at the lowest temperature all picked exactly at the moment it was perfect you know throughout the season everything that I had was aromatic and vivid and the color and the, it was just amazing.
And it was not like anything, and everyone after that was like, Oh my gosh, I would give tea gifts for, Christmas to every, I'm sure that everyone was sick of it, like how much more tea do we need? But I would just be like, we'll do it ourselves, but in blended it, and it's just so vivid and colorful and aromatic.
And people would say, wow, I've never actually had herbal tea that had This much flavor, it's just like it. You can't even compare it to tea bag herbal tea, no. And so everything it was just like, it just keeps going and going. And when you realize that, basically, all of these plants that grow naturally, grow easily.
You could actually use all of them. It's pretty amazing.
[00:51:11] Kelsey: Yeah, and they just offer themselves up so freely. And I mean it's just such I'm always amazed how the plants that people seem to need the most are always already growing around them in some way or showing up in their lives and they just Like we just don't maybe know that or see it and completely the quality is so different and you don't have to know 20 herbs like you can know start with five or get to know one really well and that can be profoundly impactful on preventative healthcare or symptom management or whatever is going on for you.
A friend of mine, she just brought me a jar full of hibiscus from her childhood home in Mexico. And so it's like this beautiful, vibrant, homegrown hibiscus. And I've just been drinking it every day. I'm just going to drink it every day until the jar is empty. But that's such a great Way to start is just get to know one because you like with the lavender, you're going to get sucked in, it's just going to snowball from
[00:52:17] Denise: there.
And with lavender, when you buy lavender things at the store, it's fake lavender and it smells horrible. It's like kind of musty, so when you smell the real thing, it's just, this is absolutely amazing. And it's like that for so much, and, the other thing with our family too, is that A lot of, we have people with mast cell disease in our house.
And this is, it's becoming more and more common, but it's like people develop sensitivities and reactions to just basic fragrance. And that was one area where we found by using the plants, You actually aren't going to have a mast cell reaction compared to like petrochemical based fragrance that's in everything.
Which was a really huge thing. And so many people like I, I was doing just even like consulting for a while where people would say, I actually have mast cell disease. They'd know that, it's in our family here too. And we deal with that and I can't handle any fragrance at all.
And, I respect that. And we do things, we prepare things in a very specific way. So I would even make things. Unscented and non cross contact kind of environment, dedicated tools and all of that. But we, there were times when it was like, there are certain things that I can, that but I can handle this, or I can handle that.
And it's then it must be that it's not aroma that's bothering you. It's. The, the chemical base of the aroma that's bothering you and that people, those folks, often we try to slowly get them back into something that's like a natural flower based, or natural plant that is grown without any chemicals, and they would be just fine with that.
And like with that, like hibiscus from Mexico too, that's That cultural element to who I find with people is something that ties in so well to people's healing is that connecting to something that means something to you because like her grandma, was it, her grandma made or something, or, and we all have these memories and they tie in with our set memory.
And all of that, I think is so important too. And that's, with the mast cell disease, and that's an area I've found where people are like, I hate. Rose, so I can't smell anything, because rose has a bad kind of, bad memory for me, or something is triggering for me. But it's but there's this other thing that like magnolia that you love, that your grandmother had a magnolia tree.
And that was, in your childhood, you had a swing under the magnolia tree as the petals fell down. And that smell doesn't bother you. And that smell actually makes you feel You know, rejuvenated and happy and content and I just think that's so powerful to,
[00:54:55] Kelsey: yeah, it's like going into just recognizing this abundance but also recognizing this sense of belonging and this sense of place and both like our culture and within the landscape and it really I feel like it's On, a more scientific level.
It's really settling our nervous system and calming our nervous system down, which is huge for chronic and autoimmune illness. But also there is like a deeper, just more expansive side that can't. I'd be contained in that way that. There's more to these interactions than just like the science of it.
There's cultural, personal significance and meaning to creating these connections and then having a sense of belonging, because I think so many people, especially youth have no sense of like belonging or place in this world. And. This, I feel like, is a huge part of that.
[00:55:53] Denise: Definitely.
And a lot of that is also reclaiming things sometimes that have been taken from us, I think, so many things are like societally, What's acceptable or what's not acceptable, and a lot of people, I think the re indigenation, re I can say that, re indigenization of people's experiences and heritage is really important as well for a lot of people because it was so cleaved from them and not allowed, for so long.
And so many cultures around the world have had that happen with colonization and pretty much everywhere, i, and by, Allowing yourself to say, yes, that this is where I come from. This is something that's important to me. And this is something that is really deeply healing to me for more than just the chemistry reason, like you were saying, it's also on an emotional and like intergenerational trauma perspective as well.
And it is, it's something deeper than just the chemistry, but it's so powerful. I think. Yeah.
[00:56:51] Kelsey: And there's this transition, right? Like when you get diagnosed or you first start having the health issues and then you realize Oh my gosh, my tap water is full of heavy metals and my clothe is made out of plastic with endocrine disruptors and blah, blah, blah.
There's all these things poisoning me. All these candles have fragrance and they're making me feel so sick to my stomach and then shifting as much as you're able to seeing like weight. But I can have this beeswax candle that I got from this local beekeeper and it has essential oils in it that not only are not poisoning me but they're like anti inflammatory and anxiolytic.
They're calming my anxiety and doing whatever else they're doing and that black walnut tree is giving me delicious walnuts but also can be used for parasites and also is really great wood for Making furniture, there's a kind of a shift to being afraid of everything because we've gotten so far from ourselves to seeing how much abundance and possibility there is like just freely waiting, offering
[00:58:01] Denise: itself up, so many people have those sensitivities and things with all of these chemicals that we have, In everything it's funny, when we moved in here, when we first saw the house, it was a whim, we were driving down, I was like, hey, there's this house listing, we should go see, and my husband, we had just, we were at a house that we had built, it was like three years old, it's yeah, okay but it was, but then when we saw it, we were like, wow, that's amazing, but one of the first things that we had to do, when people usually go to a showing, They go to see the house.
I had to go and sit in the house to see if I reacted to the house or not because we couldn't be in the house if they had used plugins or like chemical like cleaners and things because literally I can't, or if there was ever mold or mildew, like I immediately start turning red and I get hives and stuff like that.
And so that was the one of the criteria. And so we came and looked at the house first and then we asked if we could come back. And I, we literally just sat here. For two hours, just seeing, is there a reaction to the house? And there's only one room where it's felt like they had used plugins.
But so many people, I think we're not in touch with what is causing these reactions because we're so overloaded everywhere, and everything, our neighbors have dryer sheets blasting out of their dryer, but for me, it would make me sick, but if there's so many things like that happening all at once, like which thing is making you sick, and I think all of that stress and anxiety, too, that comes from all of that, obviously, is going to contribute to our autoimmune disease or other things that we're experiencing with, experiencing as well.
And Yeah. Yeah, it's like we need to clear all that out. And that's why we moved here in a way as well. That whole let's make all of our own stuff and, make our, and we do, I, I don't raise bees now because my husband swelled up like a giant. balloon. I'm also finding that the native bees and pollinators actually are stronger and better in that by cultivating bees that are not native actually is not healthy to the ecosystem or environment.
So it was a good experience for me, but that beeswax element was fun for a while too, because that's what we were doing. We were like, let's make our own salve with our own beeswax and let's do everything as close as you can. And the hard thing is that a lot of us are really busy. People have work and kids in school and all these other commitments and things and it's really hard to do everything and make everything yourself, and it's really hard to try to navigate and find out what is making me feel yuck.
And if we do reach out on like social media or something and ask questions, we get crazy responses that are a million and one things of what it is that's causing this, and what you could do to fix it. But None of these people, there may be people who know what they're talking about or that are sharing personal experiences, but, we're getting just random advice from the world that is all completely, opposing each other.
And it's, it can be really, I think, a challenge to navigate and I think that's why a lot of people are just like, whatever I give up, I just feel bad, and it's just how it is. And I think it can be scary too, to go how can I experiment or try? And it can be expensive. I think that's why I like growing.
We started growing a lot of things ourselves too. When my kids were little, we had a single, family income and my husband was going for his master's degree. And aren't we privileged that we could even own a house and that he could get a master's degree. But it also meant we're not going out and buying all of this organic, whole, everything from all of these.
Very expensive stores that, where you can't just experiment and try things and go, Oh, you don't like that. We're going to throw that 33 thing in the garbage, because nobody liked it, you're going to stick with things that are familiar and affordable and that, people will eat, so I know that there's a lot of privilege in that, but at the same time, when there's so much that we can find natively, naturally on our streets, at the parks, and.
We can experiment without having it be you have to know how to identify things, but, we have seen more and more there are like people host plant walks or people host, learn how to forage ethically, at the local park where it's only a couple bucks, there are all these different ways.
Now, I think that people can go few YouTube channels that are really good. They have people who forage that are really knowledgeable and share safety tips, so you could go and do this and learn it with your kids and try new things and experiment with some of these plants and see go.
Oh, wow. What we found even with spice seasonings that we'd buy from the store, they'd have different fillers and that was an allergen, it was like, come on, we can't even have spices, we would make our own salt blends, by hand grinding like herbs with the salt to make our own blends so that there wasn't a reaction, but it doesn't have to be too complicated, if you just start with a few things and Work your way up and see what you love and what makes you happy and what feels good.
And I think those types of things, little baby steps can help people ease into it, I think, without feeling overwhelmed and help people identify and figure out what does make them feel better, and I don't think that any of us are saying that there's a magical herbal bullet that heals everything, but there are things that We can, make in, put it into our daily rituals and our diet and like how we use plants that I think can help us find relief in some ways so that we can feel like we're more able to manage it, over time. I think.
[01:03:38] Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. And it really makes me think about to how and I know we've talked about this previously, like how inaccessible some spaces truly are for people who are differently abled or who have sensitivities because you walk into a space and they have a scented candle lit or they're spraying it.
Some fragrance, air sanitizer, especially post COVID. So many spaces have those like automatic sprays and public bathrooms that are just spraying all of the time. And it can be really hard because the idea that all these places will be accommodating is maybe one day, but right now that's a bit of a fantasy.
And it again, is just creating more onus on that person who's already struggling to be like, Hey. Can you not do this thing? And then they have to deal with, however that conversation or discussion goes. But then shifting to what you're saying of learning to make these things yourself and also leaning into the community that does get it and that does care.
Maybe there's someone you know who's growing a whole lot of our particular herb or who likes making spice blends or has tons of passion flower fruits growing in their backyard that they don't even know what to do with things like that because it really. Thank you. I think for those of us who are experiencing this and like you said, I'm not sure everyone is experiencing this on some level when we're inundated at all times with these kind of pollutants.
But leaning into this community and trying to find more community who gets this experience because
[01:05:12] Denise: it's true. And it's hard, especially now, like my daughter's on immunosuppressants. So we're not, COVID is still very much a thing for us. And she has allergies to the PEG with the vaccines as well. So can't do, in, in the beginning of COVID, like we had to have nurses, home health people come out to our house and stand out on the porch to do things like give.
get blood for labs, when it was first happening and no one knew because it was like so crazy. So we would have literally like nurses come to our house just to take blood, and on our literally on our front porch outside, which I am so grateful for every single healthcare person that came to our house and stood on my porch and did this stuff for us.
Because. That was a lot in the beginning, but like all of those things, it makes it really hard to find community because you feel like where is it safe for people who have compromised immune systems and a lot of us with autoimmune diseases are on medications that, suppress our immune systems in some way we're You know, more susceptible to certain types of illnesses, or get extremely sick if we do get, get sick, it's not just Oh, it's just a little thing.
It's a big thing. Yeah. And it puts you off for weeks or months. Yeah. Or months or it's like permanently disabling even more. And so so many, I've met so many people that are like chronic health folks who haven't seen people for three years, and finding community and where I live, I love winter, but it also means that in the winter, in the summer, we're like, hey, there are festivals, we can be outside, it's not, it's okay, we can do things outdoors, but in the winter, there's no way that we can go.
into an event at a big giant convention center with 20, 000 people. It's not going to happen because we all have to work together to keep the people healthy in our home. And I'm compromised immune system as well, just not as severely as my daughter on the medication she's on. But I know just so many people are just like, how do we build community then when we can't?
Leave, we can't see people or they're protecting someone in their household or they're, and online communities. I think so many people like downplay them, but it's like really that last lifeline for a lot of us is having people like I'm talking to you here, I can't have, I have someone coming next week to interview immunosuppressants, which is so weird.
Sorry I'm not bringing you in my house, and they're of course really wonderful and cool with it, but at the same time it's like a big deal to have someone actually come to our land even so we can walk outside and, be safe and That's so disappointing that so many of the conferences are going back to in person too because I think a lot of us in this community felt this is how it should have been the whole time.
This is amazing. Yeah. And closed captioning like I have verbal processing, I need closed captioning I have a really difficult time only listening. I don't my brain doesn't work that way and a lot of people in my household are like that, being neurodiverse and it's. Like having closed captioning on all of the webinars for a while, there was just like
Yes. This is wonderful.
[01:08:31] Kelsey: It's hard. Yeah. The on the online communities cannot, it can't be understated. I think like for those of us who get it because it gives us so many opportunities that we would not otherwise. There is a lot of I don't know if there's any other way that we do, or, maybe we could at best go to one speaker for a conference and that's it.
Because that put us out for the whole day or whatever it
[01:08:53] Denise: might be. That. Yes. Two hours later, it's no, I can't do any more than this. Everything we do is planned around. Like we have 30 minutes. We have 45
[01:09:03] Kelsey: minutes. Yeah. Like I can stand for X amount of time and then I need to go lay down with my legs up the wall.
This is. When it's virtual you can do that. You can have your heating pad, your diffuser, your legs up the wall, whatever, and often the other people you're meeting with they're on the same, they're on the same page.
[01:09:24] Denise: Yep. And knowing that it takes you two days to recover like you're saying.
Oh my gosh. I am so sorry.
[01:09:29] Kelsey: I think we just have that emergency test. That
[01:09:32] Denise: happens to be during our podcast. I, my, I'm silenced because it's an emergency. It overrides my, sorry. Wow. Little real life for ya. Yeah, that's crazy. Noisy too. But yeah, we went to recently we went to a sheep and wolf festival just to see the agility dogs because it was outdoors and there wouldn't be a lot of, we went on a Friday when it wasn't crowded, we went at nine in the morning before anybody showed up, like the very early ones, but we had to go and park and pay, it cost us like, a lot for all of us to get in.
Then we had to walk all the way over to the west field. And we were at some point, my daughter was like, I'm not gonna make it. This is too far. And so we finally got out there. We didn't, couldn't sit down because the, there were some stands and everybody was really spaced out. So we were felt like comfortable, like being out with everybody.
And we watched the agility dogs, but it was like, we watched them for probably a half an hour. And then we like, Left, and it was like we drove probably an hour. We probably paid 60 bucks. We watched some dogs for half an hour. But it was like we knew that's what we're going to do. We had it all planned out.
It worked really well for us. It was perfect weather. It wasn't hot yet either. It's we've had a hot year. So it's I think all of us also know that feeling of a whole conference. There's just, it's not going to happen, Yeah. Which is
[01:11:00] Kelsey: it's so tricky because it's really, at the end of the day, you're the one who struggles the most with it.
But it's so difficult when you're either like in a workspace or a school space where you're expected to meet this whatever expectation of being there for X amount of time or engaged in whatever way. And you quite literally cannot do that. And there's often not only not. Any accommodations, but people are really penalized for not being able to attend like you're either missing out on Whatever material you're missing or connections and relationships being made But then also yeah, in a workspace or in a school space you might truly be penalized for not being able to show up in that way.
Yeah. And it is just, it's so striking how behind we are and really making things accommodating for people of all different like abilities of making sure. For any conference or event that there's always recordings available, always closed captioning speed toggling as well. I feel like it's a huge one and.
It's, and I think sometimes until you experience it, people just can't understand how how important those accommodations are, but it shouldn't be so difficult. It should not be as difficult as it is to get them.
[01:12:28] Denise: They think that closed captioning is only for people who are unable to hear well, and it's not the case.
That is a part of it. My mother in law is deaf, and she, they have the new technology where they install things that connect to your nerves and so it allows you to actually have some sense of hearing and things like that, which is pretty amazing, actually, but, closed captioning.
She's lived by that. And also English is not her first language. She speaks German and she can only read lips in German. She doesn't read lips well in English. So you have to have, so that is important. That is a group of people who really need closed captioning, but there are also people who cannot hear a speaker if they have a certain type of sound coming out of their mouth or maybe there's a lisp or something, which is not a judgment on the speaker, but there are sensory things where people couldn't handle that.
Or there are people who have to be able to see visually the words while also hearing them in order to be able to retain them. There's, and that's only. This much of it, it goes on and on and I think that's where it's lacking, I was on a board of directors for an organization and.
Talking about adding closed captioning for their conference was like God, it's a lot of money, but there's just such, what is it? Two people maybe, or, unable to hear it just does a lot of money for only a few people. And it's that's not the whole picture. There are so many people who have different, and like I said, we have a neuro neurodiverse home and several different areas.
And literally, it's almost non functioning sometimes for just. Only hearing and they didn't, yeah, they didn't get it. It was really hard to convey that. And and I'm still very disappointed whenever I pay for webinars or, and I wait for the recording. Sometimes I can't watch them live because I'm like, I'm not going to get anything.
I need to watch it later. And then they don't have the captions. I'm like, man, it's free on YouTube these days, even. It's automatic.
[01:14:27] Kelsey: And with all the AI softwares now, I think zoom does it now. There's so many different ways to make it happen. I recently actually reached out to my university over this over some videos, not having closed captioning.
And it's something I would like to learn more about, but Again, it's tricky when you just feel like the folks who are already struggling to make something happen should not have the extra onus to then have to self advocate to get something that really just with a little bit of compassion you would give without second thought.
I had a client recently who is in an art program at a university and has like long days teaching and in class in a studio where they're exposed to like paints and solvents and all kinds of things that are causing for them headaches that are now happening several days a week, which is pretty debilitating.
And I've just been thinking about that, like. How many people out there are living with these kinds of conditions or situations that really could be easily avoided with like good ventilation or air filtration or, whatever it is some closed captions or recordings made available that it's in the sense of trying to get diagnosed, which is a struggle, I'm sure your family is very well acquainted with if you just believe people.
Just believe them at the outset. No one would want to be in these situations. Like there, no one's asking for help because they want to be ill. We just believe people and hold them with compassion. It's really not that difficult to give the support that's needed.
[01:16:09] Denise: Yeah, exactly.
Yeah, and we're a family. Like we had years, we even had to jump through hoops to get to Mayo Clinic. Because they only accept you if you jump through all the hoops, but I think the hoops are there not only for people who have accessibility issues, physically, mentally, other, all of these impacts, but also, with accessibility with language and things like that.
It's like we. Assume so much for everyone and so like herbalism in and of itself has so many things like that where it's not accessible to everyone. And like you said, putting the onus on people to have to prove that they're worthy to be, accommodated is ridiculous. And, I, that's why I felt when someone said to me it costs money.
It's it costs money to rent a hotel and, do the whole entire convention, a whole conference. in person at a place, so you're accommodating hundreds of people already by having it in a location where everybody can hang out, chit chat and be social, that was their need.
They, the extroverts of the world go be in person. That's not accommodating. It is in a way, we just have to shift our perspective of what That means because we're missing out, I think on so many by, by limiting who can attend or be a part of things we're losing out on a lot of like beauty and diversity of people and thought and ideas and perspectives,
[01:17:38] Kelsey: yes. And it's just like the garden, the more diversity, the better, the healthier the whole system is. And it, yeah, it also reminds me of, I think sometimes people don't understand how much. extra costs there already are for people who are living with chronic illness and who are differently abled however that might look just like from the simplest things of not being physically able to go to the grocery store so you have to pay extra to get your groceries delivered or having to pay extra to have like mobility aids or Whatever it might look like, it can be really little things.
And there's this, there's even this interesting concept of eco ableism, like this idea and examples like that we all need to go plastic free. But for some people, like they need plastic because plastic is like what their IV bag is, consisting of, or they have to buy pre packaged frozen vegetables because they can't physically grip a knife and chop them themselves.
There's just so many nuances and layers to this that it must be helpful. But that's
[01:18:47] Denise: all judgment, right? Yeah. It's all based on judgment. And that's why, even within the permaculture industry, the world, it's the judgment of what, everybody can't just move to Costa Rica and live in an eco village, you're not, and I joke, I was joking with the, my business coach like months ago, she asked me something like what, what are the barriers or what do most people think? What are the assumptions? And I was like, the whole thing of the hardcore permaculture is you have to pee in your compost, you can't even use your own bathroom.
You're not truly. into permaculture if you're not peeing in your compost. And she was laughing. She's you have to post that. You have to do a social media post. But that's the thing. That's what I, the beauty of permaculture to me is that whole like use and value the marginal and the edges and and Embrace diversity and all of these different elements are like the principles of that and of social permaculture of like people care and earth care and fair share, meaning we have to do the community level.
We need to support people and make things accessible and to make things affordable and to make sure we include people who are historically excluded from the table and from conversations and from these spaces and. All of these things about permaculture are so inclusive and I think to me it's see this is like a map for a perfect life both plant wise and personally and business and your ethics and your family and our place and Yeah, so many people get judged when they come into these spaces, whether it be like the herbal, space where, oh, if you still are suffering from your autoimmune disease, you must be a really bad herbalist, or from the permaculture spaces, if you aren't, if you aren't plastic free, or if you have air conditioning in your home, you're just Like, absolutely horrible, you can't be here, you're not crunchy enough, and that's, there's a lot of that in our home, we have air conditioning, we have a person who actually gets hives from being hot in our house, but we also have solar, because we are like, aren't we lucky that we can access this, a lot of people can't.
We put solar in, and we have solar power for all of my dehydrators and our air conditioning, and our washer and dryer. Because we can't hang up our clothes outside because of the pollens and all of the allergies, all of these things. But there shouldn't be judgment. It should be that you come, you do what you can with what you have where you are.
That's like my... Philosophy of the universe, basically, all of that through, six words, but it really is. I think that judgment keeps a lot of us out because judgment is what leads decisions on how to include people or. Who deserves to be included, there is a judgment and whether or not you provide closed captioning, whether you admit it or not, there was a judgment at some point.
Absolutely, and that's what we're all afraid of as well. When we come in these spaces, are we going to be included? Are we going to be welcomed? Are we going to be judged? And if we're going to be judged, are we going to be judged and humiliated publicly? Are we going to be shamed with, Some comments on our body types or on our use of our mobility aids or on how long we can stand before we have to go find a chair, on how long we can work in the sun on, are we crunchy enough?
Are we natural enough? Are we perfect enough? And I just, I think that we're missing out on so much by Having this judgment society based society, and that's isn't that it's leads into what capitalism is in a way. All of it's a judgment on what is worthy and what's not worthy.
What has value and what doesn't have value and how much value does it have? And But that's why I love permaculture for my, that's, I was like telling my business coach, I had, it's like my permaculture, or it's we're here just to create community and to create mutual aid and to create abundance and to share without limits, it's and still provide for ourselves and not do it based on like monetary systems.
And it's, I just wish we could rethink the whole world like that,
[01:22:52] Kelsey: yeah I so deeply resonated with everything you said. And it is really interesting because in the same way that we treat and place this judgment on others, I think it's so often is starting with how we're treating ourselves.
And I think that was something that really hit me in the face when I was diagnosed with Lyme and with POTS was realizing like. Oh, standing for eight hours, when I was working at the apothecary, I would feel with POTS, you get certain symptoms from standing too long. And I would be like, nauseous and feel sick and getting flushed.
And I couldn't think clearly. And I would just crash. And, back in the day, there's so many experiences like that, where you, especially without the diagnosis, you just judge yourself, you think there's something wrong here. My character as a person, not Oh, I have a health condition. How can I work with my body so that I can still do the things I want to do, but I'm getting that support I need.
And I find so often it's the same folks and for each of us, cause we all do it, to ourselves, who's placing all this judgment. It's it always starts and maybe that's not where we first learned it, but often what's perpetuating that judgment is the way we're doing it to ourselves.
[01:24:12] Denise: Yeah. Exactly. And I think we've been judged by, external forces for so long that we also self judge ourselves, like you're saying and I think we, you get tired of being having people make past, make or pass judgments on you based on, perceived things, that people don't actually know the whole story, but I think we self, what do you call it, self regulate ourselves in order to not have to experience that too.
In public places or in communities which just sucks. That's not fair for anybody,
[01:24:44] Kelsey: yeah it really does, and it's something that I'm really hopeful, especially within kind of the traditional health worlds of herbalism and even, I can't separate permaculture farming in my mind from healthcare, because I It is, but it just have so much hope that in these worlds will continue unraveling some of these just ridiculous narratives that we've all learned and picked up along the way.
[01:25:16] Denise: Yeah. It's like a new paradigm that we need for ourselves and for our community. But I think that's why a lot of us like bond together in many ways and limit our, self limit ourselves, into communities that we now understand and sympathize and, And I, there's so many groups on Facebook and things for every single thing, I'm like which groups do I join?
I also have lupus, and I have Sjogren's, and we have mast cell disease, and there's Crohn's in the house, and there's, I feel okay, I've joined 32 groups, And we all need to vent and let it out, but it's also hard to be a part of, like, all these groups where we're, like, There's so much happening and we're all so in need of finding answers and having solutions and being supported that it's I wish there was like a, like we all felt like there was a cohesive whole, because I think we'd be pretty powerful all together.
[01:26:06] Kelsey: I so agree. And those on, and those different online support groups on Facebook or like zoom and meetups or whatever they may be. They're just, they can be such lifesavers to just hop on and hear from other people there's so much just connection and comfort, but also so much learning that comes out of those.
[01:26:26] Denise: Yes, exactly.
[01:26:29] Kelsey: Yeah, I'm wondering with I know you have different chronic illnesses that you're juggling at all times. I'm wondering what kind of is either a favorite remedy that you've been using a lot lately that is helpful for you and how, or what's one that like you're currently in the process of drying or macerating or for crafting.
[01:26:53] Denise: Yeah, and I make a lot of things. I got a handy dandy new Levu I think it's called that is like an infuser machine so that I could just do it on the, on the counter. And it's nice because, when you're, I, decocting and infusing all the time and making things non stop.
Sometimes it's better with heat extraction, depending on the plant, and it actually heats it up. And so it's and you just leave it there and it just turns off when it's done and you don't have to stand in the kitchen. I'm the person who like wanders away and gets caught up in some other project I'm working in and then, I'm like, oh, I just boiled the whole pot down to zero.
Even with all my timers on, we have a smart house so that, we don't, it's an accessibility thing too. We can literally turn on and off all our lights. open our doors, lock our doors so we don't have to walk down to the basement when the assault guy comes. We just tell it to unlock the basement door and the guy can just go.
We can turn on and off water so we don't have to walk out to the faucet or the hose, but like all of those things, that's the part of all of this, and Creating systems within our house so that it is easier for us and it helps us, do less work and manage things. So that I think is brilliant.
And so I've this last week I've been experimenting with that and I did rose infused oil lavender infused oil. I started a chaga tincture from some chaga from here and that's, with that you have to do both the alcohol extraction and then a water extraction to get the full bioavailability of the components, which I love.
That's one thing. Mushrooms are amazing. And I found turkey tail on a lilac tree the other day here. So I'm going to be doing some of that as an extraction
[01:28:32] Kelsey: as well. When medicine is growing on medicine. I
[01:28:36] Denise: know. And we have mushroom logs that are doing well. But that was just like a completely random wild turkey tail.
And I'm so excited. Took 90 pictures. My family's there's mushrooms on the tree. Okay. We get it. I know. But I also, what I love is tea and why I like tea is because I can blend something each time. It's an experience like the aroma of it, the feeling of it, and it's I like.
Tinctures, but I honestly have, I also have reactions to alcohol. So if I have a red wine extraction or a high, ever clear extraction, I will flush and all of that. And so I do a lot of teas and I love Tulsi. I know I've already said that, but that's one of those that I grow all types, and I'm always blending tea.
I love Minarda. So that's something it's not as commonly used, in, and I love it. I think it's one of the best plants ever. The taste is amazing. Just looking
[01:29:37] Kelsey: at them when they bloom, it's oh, the most, just, I don't know, wild, wildly beautiful flower.
[01:29:45] Denise: They are, and it's just, and it smells amazing.
And it's wonderful, even spice blends, because it's reminiscent of a sage oregano kind of blend. And that's why I love doing salt blends where I have a giant dehydrator that's about up to my waist. It's massive. So I do like spice blends and I make flax crackers out of them.
So I'll like dry herbs and grind them up so that basically you can have 16 ounces of herbs, like down into a couple tablespoons of powder, but then mix it in with the flax. And flax is mucilaginous, so when you add water it gets slimy. But that allows you to mix it all together with a little garlic and onion, sea salt, and then smear it on the basically and dehydrate it and they form crispy flax crackers, which also are really good and healthy for you because you get all those good oils and fats.
They're also really high in fiber and I get all the herbs in there and it tastes. Absolutely amazing. So that's what I've been doing too. It's that season again. I call them flackers crackers.
[01:30:52] Kelsey: gosh, now I want Monarda crackers. I've never, I love putting Monarda in like pasta sauce with all the fresh, tomatoes from the garden, but in a cracker, that sounds
[01:31:03] Denise: really good. It's so good. And for me, I do a lot of anti inflammatory because I do have a lot of like joint related issues and things.
And so some of the things it's sad, I can't grow turmeric and ginger and all of that here. But I source things from companies that you know, I try to make sure I get ethically sourced and fair wages paid to farmer type of Things like that, and single sourcing so I love making all of the different types of chai that I'll make, even with turmeric and different spices and things, and I include depends on what I'm growing, but I try to include our homegrown astragalus and ashwagandha roots and things like that in there, so it's more like an immuno immune support chai and I, with a lot of us with autoimmune diseases, there are certain, Plants that are harder, like Echinacea for me isn't the best, or Elderberry, it tends to be wonky with my autoimmune disease, but things that are the adaptogens, like the Rhodiola, Eleuthero Astragalus, Ashwagandha, Tulsi, those really work well with my body and help me, I think, a lot.
So much. And for people who don't know what adaptogens are, they are plants that have it's like our body wants to find homeostasis. And so they're plants that help our body find homeostasis. Basically, it helps our body adapt to stress for stressors. And it doesn't mean oh, I'm stressed out stress.
It can be all stress, fragrance. environmental changes, impacts the, like you said, the chemicals in the water from, purification, it just helps our body adapt and respond. And those, I think I find them so supportive of all of my it's great with anti inflammatories as well. And it's just I like having them in food.
I love spices and spice blends. And And grinding things, I love drawing things and grinding them up. So like in my little, I have a little coffee wizard. Always doing that, but I'm always making something. I
[01:33:01] Kelsey: have mine. It's like one, one is for coffee. One is for like flax and chia seeds. And then one is for herbs and it's all written on there.
So no one ever mixes it up or puts coffee in my herb grinder, but I Yeah you're common on the different herbs and adaptogens. Interesting. And it, it reminds me of, I feel like one of the most common misconceptions people have, even maybe some herbalists, but especially people who don't know about herbal medicine, is that you can't use herbs if you're also taking pharmaceuticals.
So can you talk a little bit to that? Cause I know you have family members who do take important medications. How do you like work with both herbs and pharmaceuticals together?
[01:33:44] Denise: Yeah, and we do. We, we, for a family practice, practitioner, we do have an integrative physician who knows a lot about herbs.
She also knows that I know about herbs. I feel like it's important to have a conversation with. positions so that they know what we're taking. I worked, I volunteered with the Veterans Resiliency Holistic Clinic with Herbalists Without Borders and worked with veterans for, from 2017 to 2022.
And that was one of the key things is that, because I have experience. looking at what types of medications we have and making sure that nothing is going to interact in a negative way. I found that was really applicable in working with veterans because a lot of veterans had been on, there were people who had heart attacks, had stints, were on blood thinners were taking antipsychotics, were, doing different types of medications that like a few people have been blown up in Afghanistan and things like that.
And we're on like heavy duty medications. And for me, they would always think that they had to hide it from their doctor. I'm like, please take the list. I'm confident in what you're taking, and tell them that they're free to contact me. And it was because a lot of doctors like I don't want to hear about that or that's all bad or it's all, junk.
And I think that what they found over time, a lot of them would say their doctors are like, Oh, wow. Great. Or one guy his doctor was like I think you're taking like ginger. You shouldn't take that. And he was like, yeah, she already told me that for a week before surgery, I shouldn't take ginger because it is blood thinning capabilities.
So I already stopped taking it, and the doctor was like, Wow, it's amazing. But I think it's like, we're here to educate our, Western medicine folks in a positive and supportive way without being antagonistic is a kind of how I feel and I've had, I actually, my rheumatologist is I don't want to hear about diet or things.
So I'm like, fine, I'll never tell you about it. And 2 years later, he came back and he's have you heard of, people take some people take turmeric. And I was like, with black pepper and ginger for inflammatory properties. And he's but it was, I think some of us, are used to that.
Like anything we take, we're used, especially if we have a lot of different chronic health issues, we're like used to people like pushing it or being like, yeah, whatever, it's not going to do anything. And I think we like self limit again and don't share. And I'm, I think also because people are afraid of like being confronted or asked.
questions about it. For me though, we, I always, like we've even, at Mayo Clinic, I know that they were like tell us everything. I'm like, really everything or kind of everything, do you really want the fullest?
[01:36:20] Kelsey: How much time do you
[01:36:21] Denise: have? And we do we even have our supplements on the listing now for my daughter specifically, because in mine, I change them so often it's harder because I'm always like, Let's see how this works.
Let's see how this works. And I use myself as a guinea pig for some new things that I want to try. But like for my daughter with mast cell disease, like the quercetin and things like that, we were trying different things, different mast cell stabilizers, even taking like peppermint is a mast cell stabilizer and antihistamine and natural antihistamine.
Certain plants have like prostaglandin inhibiting properties and so we did go through a lot of that and a lot of people in the Mass Health community do try those things because they're it's, really challenging, but some of those things can react with medications. And so I use, I do extensive research and that's what I always told the veterans too, is I'm going to go first, tell me all your medicines and I'm going to go and double check because I want to make sure that there's no interaction and that this is safe for me to recommend to you.
And people have one of two perceptions, either there's a, and sometimes they're both, and that's where I find it really interesting, but there's a, that what you're taking is doesn't do anything, and it's too small, and it doesn't matter, and it's no big deal, or B, you take is really harmful and is, going to get you in trouble.
And that's what I find from a lot of physicians if they don't have that integrative experience. And when they believe both of them at the same time is when I find that fascinating. It's do you think that it's, not working and the herbs don't help? Or do you think that herbs are going to interact and harm you because you can't have both?
And that's usually when the most interesting conversations do happen. It's research and For certain herbs, as there are a lot of like clinical trials and research and data out there. But there are also a lot of things where specific types of things are not well known yet, or they're only limited studies.
And that's why I always tell people to start with one thing and work your way up. Because if you do, a lot of people, like when they see herbalist, they get like a whole big, huge, like bag of stuff, here's the whole big bag. And then if something works, you don't know which. Is it accumulation?
Is it one thing? Or if you have a reaction because a lot of us have very, specific types of reactions, especially to like different medications or different plants and you don't know what caused the problem either, and so I like starting and adding on working my way up and I do the same with our family, we'll try something new and we add the one thing first, and we check on that and see how it works.
And a lot of people respond so differently to, I've had a lot of people that are like, everyone is fine, but I'm not fine. And that happens, you, and especially if you've had POTS experiences mast cell folks have a lot of the POTS as well. It's there's the duo, the trio also adds EDS, the Ehlers Danlos it's the holy triad of mast cell disease, POTS, and EDS.
And a lot of those folks I've found, because I work with a lot of people in our community, they do react to different things. So we just start slow, we work one thing at a time we always double check medications, make sure nothing's gonna interact, and I always encourage people to tell their doctors, and at least establish that conversation, which some people are gonna go, but some are gonna go, Great, I'm really glad you told me, I've heard good things about that, and then, Reinforce that and I know it can be scary.
Because yeah, when we're with doctors, we're not in the position of power and they are and often we're used to having our experiences be discounted. And a lot of us have been told it's in our head or we're imagining it, or it's not, it couldn't possibly be as bad as it really is for years, and that can be scary, but that's why I think finding I was, we love having an integrative physician just in our normal insurance realm, the rest of the people in the office aren't, but this person graduated from, the integrative center for I don't even know the name of it.
Andrew Wiles place in Arizona. Because they have, and there's a lot of, functional medicine and integrative medicine people these days. And usually you can find someone like that in any healthcare system. You might have to hunt and you might have to see if they're accepting new patients because sorry, see, I get dry mouth too for my children.
So I'm like very sticky right now. On my lips. But for that, finding a physician that works for you really well can be just really a lifesaver in some ways because they're actually open and they listen and they also recommend and help people wade through some of that and they can work really well with a nervalist if you're seeing somebody to incorporate both things.
It's really helpful.
[01:41:09] Kelsey: Yeah, that's so important. And like you said, it can be really tricky to find, but if you can't find them very well worth it. I'm wondering, I know we're getting close to our end. I'm wondering what is one tool, because I think so many people struggle with this. What's one tool that you or your daughter, that you as a family utilize when going into health care settings to help you feel more empowered, walking into what's generally, I think, for most Spoonies, like a fairly triggering environment.
[01:41:44] Denise: Honestly, as I've gotten older, and we've had to navigate significant medical, I know we all have, with my daughter, though her allergies are so severe that I even have to stay in the hospital with her and I don't ever leave her because they always put something in her body that she's allergic to, even when it's on her record, or they give her food that she's not allowed to eat.
So I literally go to hot like with during COVID when we had to be in the hospital for five days, I just. didn't leave the room. I took everything, even like water, food. I lived on granola bars for five days and didn't leave the room, but nobody is gonna put anything, and it's hard to get to that point.
One thing that, yeah, sets me a lot is that I know as a white person and as someone who is starting to have gray hair and is someone who does have the ability to speak well in general to medical professionals that I'm listened to and I know, I can't tell you how many times I've literally said to doctors, you know what, if, what if I didn't speak English?
How would you work with me? You're gonna, this isn't okay, this isn't okay, this isn't okay. Because, a lot of that is just the confidence and honestly, I, this will sound ridiculous because I'm a white woman and again, I'm sure this is coming from my place of privilege that I go in and I have all of, I know we all do this too.
I've researched everything. I know how to pronounce the words. I literally go on YouTube and play how do I, to pronounce something. So that I'm like sound really smart because I found that they listen. It's ridiculous to say that out loud, but my experience is that the more I can go in and I can sound calm, intelligent, and extremely knowledgeable, the more they'll shake their head, and go, okay I know that a lot of people don't have that privilege and coming into certain types of situations where people judge them based on other factors.
But I also know that when my child was younger, and we first started, that we weren't being listened to, and a lot of things happened that caused trauma that we're still dealing with today because of doctors not listening, so I hate to say it, but bad experience has also made me more confident to put my foot down and say no, or to say wait, or stop, and it's sad to say that we had to get to the point where something You know, and sometimes I'm like, I guess the good thing is that you put it in the chart, because that's another thing I found is verifying.
A lot of people will self diagnose because we figure something out that the doctors haven't, but I find that it's really important to somehow find a way to validate it and get it in the chart, because once it's in the chart, every single doctor that looks at it, believes it. And we've done that even like with our allergist.
We've had to have things that people said, there's no way, nobody ever responds, nobody ever reacts to this, there's no way that's what that allergy is. And I've gone to the allergist and said, Test this, I don't think we can get that. Nobody's ever tested it before. I was in one time I told her because she was like talking about testing for me allergies.
And she was saying that they got kangaroo because someone came from Australia, and they managed to get and I said if you can get kangaroo for an allergy test, you can get this for an allergy test, and we've done things like that and had it put in the chart. And I always ask for accommodations first.
Early in the, when, during all of this, I would do whatever anyone said, but now if we're gonna go somewhere, I'm like, can you bring it out to me and my car, and all they can say is no. And I, and that's the thing. I think so many people are timid or afraid because you're afraid of being judged or you're afraid of them refusing.
I'm to the point where, if we go and get a COVID shot. They come out to my car, no matter what. I'm not going in your building. You're coming to my car and they do. Yeah. And I'm asked nicely. I'm professional. I'm polite, but I ask for accommodations and I Tell them how they can make it happen.
It was the same with getting home nurses here. Oh, we can't do that. Can you make it happen? We, same with some, there was a test for a medication that we had to test do a skin test under observation first and nobody had it. I called a pharmacy. Can you draw that out yourself and drive it over to the doctor's office?
People were like, that's preposterous. No one's going to do it. The guy said, sure. Wow. Okay. People, and I live, small towns can help some of that, but I've just found that the worst thing that could ever happen is that they say no. That's so
[01:46:37] Kelsey: true. Especially when you put it like that.
Yeah, like what do you have
[01:46:42] Denise: to lose? And I think a lot of us are afraid. I know I was when my child was younger, because a lot of times, a mom is being seen as hysterical or overbearing or making stuff up about their child's health. And the last thing you want is someone saying in your notes, the mom is making things up.
But, if I was, if I kept records, if I was really clear, if I was professional, and I explained and asked for what we needed, I found most people go, Oh, Okay, so yeah, that was a little way to say that,
[01:47:17] Kelsey: That's so helpful. And it, it is really unfortunate, but I very much relate to it that sometimes it really does take those not so great experiences to get yourself to the point of feeling empowered enough to say, no, this is how this needs to happen or no, this is what I need.
And not even. Needing to explain yourself. But just this is how it is and, but it really does sometimes take those experiences to get to that point. And yeah, I think that was really helpful way of saying it. Just empower yourself as much as you can and if you have to it till you make it.
I know I have done that many a times in doctor's offices. Pretended to be a lot more calm than I really was.
[01:48:04] Denise: And that's true, that just even just I've felt like, I dress, I get dressed. I don't go in like pajamas, when we go to the doctor, the hospital, I'm like, I have my notes.
I literally have a notebook with things written down. I, when my daughter was younger, I had printed out lists to make sure we covered everything. And they would go, And we had doctors, eventually it would go, Oh, do you have your list? And then I would hand it to them and they'd go that, cause I didn't want to forget.
And I didn't want to forget the word for medicine or sound like I didn't know what I was talking about, but it worked. And over time, the more you practice, the more confident you become. And the more you're able to say clearly what you need and how you need to get it. It's just so important really at self advocation it's really hard.
And for me, it was easier to start with my daughter. You know what it was for me, honestly, it was easier to do for her than me, but I got better at it over time and I'm better at that for myself. Yeah, I
[01:49:04] Kelsey: love that. And I love making a list cause I can do the same thing.
Sometimes it's like the fight or flight takes over and I. I can't think or speak and having notes. I usually just have them on my phone, but I like that idea of printing it so you can hand it to them or hand them a copy. So you're and that also like you're saying it shows that there is a level of attention to detail that you have that I think kind of shifts the dynamic a little bit.
[01:49:31] Denise: does because it puts you in the position of power and they're there to answer your questions and help you. So yeah. To support you.
[01:49:41] Kelsey: Exactly. Yeah. And so often we just walk in, in a very disempowered place, not realizing it almost like going in with a victim mentality, which we are in a sense, victims to the illnesses, the experiences, but in another sense, does not.
If that's our only mentality walking in, that's not a super helpful place to be coming from when you really are needing support.
[01:50:09] Denise: It's true. Yeah. Yeah.
[01:50:10] Kelsey: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I know we're at our time. I, this has been such a lovely, wonderful conversation. I feel like this is going to be every time we talk, it's just, we can't stop, but I love it.
That's good. Tell us a little bit about what projects you have going on. What's coming up for you with Holy Rooted.
[01:50:33] Denise: It's really exciting. I, as I said, I, we've homeschooled my kids entire life and they're now 18 and 20 and coming into this year, I'd been doing mostly like clinical herbalism and one on ones and consultations.
And as I was looking, going, really, what really speaks to me is that I love working in my garden. I love our land. I love growing. I love permaculture. How permaculture works with herbalism, utilizing those principles, not only for growing things and providing for ourselves with plants, but also social permaculture, which is creating social systems that work and rebuilding kind of the world.
We want to see, sitting down and talking to my kids about that. It was do you guys do this together while you do this with me? We could make this thing, just, with our family, with the three of us and make this work and both of them said yes, which is.
Amazing. They didn't say, mom, we're really sick of seeing you all day, every day for the last 20 years. They said, yes. So we've created this, and we've been working on building an online school where we're working on how to teach, permaculture principles to herbalists and also talking about sustainability, regenerative.
Regenerative in the realms of agriculture and ecosystem and environment, but also regenerative in life and our home and what we do and how we do it and our relationships. So we started with regenerative herbalism as our first course that we're launching pretty soon here and then we're also looking at moving into the future into looking at regenerative businesses and helping business owners.
Look at sustainability and sourcing as well as being an ethical employer and being an ethical business person and a community member, and how can we navigate that in a way that allows us to earn a living while also being giving, and supporting our community. And so those are the areas we're really focusing and what we're working on.
So we've been. For the last six months, building this course and my daughter's actually proofreading right now for me. We're doing things together. My son does a lot of video. He's interested in video editing and filmmaking. And so he's doing a lot of the video work that we're creating. And we also just really enjoy being with each other, working together, and I think it is so much more interesting to have people to talk to and have different perspectives, especially different ages, a 20 and 18 year old, it's important what they see and how they envision their role in the future and our world sustainability.
Climate impacts, all of those things I think are so important from that generation as well and what they have to say is really important and so we're making sure that we're being really inclusive in that and also in our space, we have a trans person in our home and being trans inclusive in our work and LGBTQ inclusive and positive is really important to us.
We want to create spaces and education that helps build these communities and help support people who are otherwise right now feeling under attack, in a lot of places and making sure that we are creating again, creating the world we want and creating the community we want. So that's what we've been working on.
And the first regenerative herbalist class is launching in the next month. We've just been going full steam ahead. Yeah. It's just so much to get here. But I'm so happy working with both of my kids and they're both amazing humans and I'm really excited we're doing it together.
[01:54:02] Kelsey: That is so beautiful and so like truly regenerative.
What an incredible concept and gift to the community. I'm so excited to see how it unfolds and I'm just so grateful to have had this conversation with you. I No, I will link all of your website info and Instagram where I know I believe you, the device you got it and the chaga you were hammering the chaga.
Follow Denise. We'll link it in the show notes because yeah, everything you're doing is so beautiful and I'm so grateful. We got a chance to chat today and I hope when we get off, you can check in with your daughter, see how the the proofreading is going.
[01:54:43] Denise: Yes. Yeah. Her voice, it's amazing. At the end, she was proofreading for me, and she put in something saying this is, me, and I just want to say that should support your trans community.
People are feeling really vulnerable and needy right now, and, by standing up, and, it was just, it made me cry, and it was like this she's I hope you don't mind. I put that in there, I was like, it's staying, it's beautiful. Do I mind? No, it just
[01:55:07] Kelsey: added so much. No, I know.
Of everything you
[01:55:10] Denise: want. Yeah, exactly. So deeply needed. Thank you so much for having me. I really, I love talking to you. And I know we always can talk and talk. I know!
[01:55:22] Kelsey: Next time I'm gonna need more drinks and snacks. So we can just go on and on. I hope you
[01:55:28] Denise: all enjoyed today's podcast episode
[01:55:31] Kelsey: as much as I did.
Denise is such an incredible and inspiring herbalist and the way that she speaks about the land and the plants
[01:55:39] Denise: is so magical. I hope it
[01:55:42] Kelsey: transported you right to her farm, just like it did for me. The goal of this podcast is to help you feel empowered, embodied, and connected to yourself, your community, and your heritage.
As well as your local ecosystems. I truly feel like this episode hit on all of those things. Remember that when we reconnect
[01:56:04] Denise: to our bodies and to nature,
[01:56:06] Kelsey: that healing truly becomes inevitable. And it's never a linear process. Our bodies are a direct reflection of the ecosystems we inhabit. And just like this earth, our bodies know how to
[01:56:20] Denise: heal.